Nico Rosberg says he and Lewis Hamilton did not deliberately refuse to shake hands as they head into their 2016 title showdown in Abu Dhabi.
Before the FIA press conference, moderator James Allen asked the Mercedes pair to stand for the photographers and shake hands, but they did not do the latter.
But Rosberg later told Bild newspaper: “We were only asked to stand up for a photo. It would have been no problem to shake hands with Lewis.”
Actually, the pair on Thursday insisted they have mutual respect, and it is obvious that the open hostility of their previous title battles has gone.
“Obviously we had ups and downs but ultimately, particularly in the last year, I think we’ve been able to manage it pretty well,” said Hamilton.
Rosberg agreed: “We’ve had some difficult moments but also some good ones and this year I think we’ve made progress so it’s generally neutral but of course a difficult environment.”
So both contenders played down any claims ‘dirty tricks’ could play into Sunday’s title battle, including Hamilton backing Rosberg into the chasing Red Bulls.
“If I’m out ahead, I generally want to be as far ahead as possible. That’s as painful a blow as you can give to the guy you’re fighting,” said Hamilton.
And while Rosberg said he will do whatever it takes to win the title, he will only do what is “Within the limits of what’s acceptable”.